What Types of Threats Can We Face in the Workplace

Close up of someone pouring coffee through a filter to highlight some of the different types of threats businesses can face in the workplace

What is a threat?



1. A statement of an intention to inflict pain, injury, damage, or other hostile action on someone in retribution for something done or not done.

2. A person or thing likely to cause damage or danger.


The word “threat” means different things to different people. After all, a threat can be anything that makes us feel threatened, anything that can suggest or actually cause both mental or physical pain; a threat is an act of coercion.

Many of us may go through life without ever being threatened or even being in a situation where someone else is being threatened. However, for others, they may not be so lucky. Typically, the workplace tends to be an environment where threats are more likely to happen.

So what can we do, if anything?

As with everything in life, by simply being aware and prepared, we can diffuse most situations that we face in the workplace. To help you be more aware of workplace threats that can occur, here is our list of the types of threats we can face in the workplace.


Close up of someone poring coffee through a filter


Types of Threats in the Workplace

1. Workplace Violence

Workplace violence is defined as any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, disruptive or threatening behaviour that happens in the workplace. With such a wide range of acts that come under the violence umbrella, from written or physical abuse to theft or explosives, there is also different ‘types’ of workplace violence. Whether it is between employees, an employee and a client, an employee and a spouse, or an employee and a criminal outsider, if all these threats happen within the workplace, they are a part of this category. Obviously, some businesses and companies are at a bigger risk than others when it comes to workplace violence, however, it is worth being more aware if you deal with money or your work involves early mornings or late nights.

2. Workplace Bullying

Although you may think this should come under workplace violence, workplace bullying is in its own category. Unlike violence, bullying is not random. Bullying is a targeted, persistent mistreatment of someone that is intended to humiliate, control or threaten their emotional, mental, or physical well-being. It is also different to bullying in school, as often the bully is someone who has authority over the victim or by peers who are often operating within the established rules and policies of their organisation. The severe effects of workplace bullying are obviously limited to the individual, however, it can also lead to reduced employee morale and changes in the organisational culture.

3. Mailed Threats

When we think of mailed threats, we think of the kind we’ve seen in films where a note is formed of cut up letters from magazines, but they can be a lot more serious than that. Nowadays, threats in the mail usually consist of death threats or attempts at sending explosives and usually targets people who handle mail and packages or people who work in buildings that do. Depending on the severity of these threats, mailed threats can sometimes cross into the realms of terrorist attacks.


 A person going to open a package in the office


4. Asbestos & Chemical Threats

Threats can also come in the form of materials, rather than certain people targeting others with violence. For example, it has long been recognised that asbestos is a workplace threat, especially in older buildings, as breathing in its fibres can cause serious lung diseases and cancer. Other potential workplace threats depend on the type of job and materials that are being handled, such as gas or chemical leaks, burns, or inhaling toxic fumes from hazardous chemicals or gases. Although more and more measures are put in place all the time to make working conditions safer for workers, there is always a chance of coming into contact with these risks.

5. Terrorism

Although rare, terrorism is a threat that the workplace needs to be aware of and prepared for just as much as the others. With the recent bout of terrorist attacks, you can appreciate why. Being prepared is essential to prevent and manage a potential situation, and to minimise the outcome, therefore businesses should be spending a sufficient amount of time raising awareness of terrorism with their employees, training them to act in a potential situation, and running threat drills to regularly enforce this training.


As there are so many different threats that we can face in the workplace, it is important that employees are made aware and are trained to be prepared for them all. For this reason, businesses should have policies and procedures in place to ensure that staff can respond safely and effectively to any situation.


What we can do for you:

If you’re interested in knowing more about threat awareness training for your staff, RGM are offering training courses developed by Counter Terrorism and Threat Specialists. If you need training or just advice, please don’t hesitate to contact us.


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